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Posted By: Dad9541 Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 02:36 AM
I am 61 and started learning to play the piano about 6 months ago. I am taking online lessons and really enjoy the progress I have been making. But... I also want a solid foundation as I learn. I was recently given the advice to start learning spacial recognition of the keyboard. That way, I would not have the need to look down at my hands while I was practicing. So I was wondering if this was solid advice? The reason that I am asking... Is that I do not want to get into any bad habits.

Thanks everyone!
Posted By: thepianoplayer416 Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 03:28 AM
When you're playing beginner pieces with no big jumps, you would look to find the first notes and be able to play the rest by feel without looking down. The reason against looking down at your hands is that when you're reading notes off a page, moving your head down to see your hands and then back up again you're going to lose your place on the sheet.

Teachers are not against looking at your hands once in a while especially after big jumps to make sure your hands land on the right notes. The correct way is to move your eyes down for a quick glance and back towards the sheet where you left off.
Posted By: tangleweeds Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 04:52 AM
Developing that kind of spatial recognition is even more useful if you want to become proficient at sight-reading. On one hand, it needn't become any kind of "Must never look at keyboard!!" neurosis. On the other, as mentioned above, if you're going to be looking down to orient yourself, you're going to have to develop the skill of re-finding where on the sheet music you need to return to.

It actually feels great once you've gotten your spatial recognition skill down. Re-locating my place on the sheet remains far more annoying! laugh
Posted By: Animisha Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 07:44 AM
Hi Dad9541, welcome to piano world!

Originally Posted by Dad9541
I was recently given the advice to start learning spacial recognition of the keyboard. That way, I would not have the need to look down at my hands while I was practicing. So I was wondering if this was solid advice? The reason that I am asking... Is that I do not want to get into any bad habits.

There are different schools, and my teacher thinks it is totally unnecessary to keep your eyes glued to the score. She recommends going back and forth and that is what I do.
Also, most concert pianists who memorise their pieces don't look up to the concert hall ceiling, they look at the keys.

Having said that, some passages are best played while not looking at my hands, because I need to look at the score. smile
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 01:05 PM
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The reason against looking down at your hands is that when you're reading notes off a page, moving your head down to see your hands and then back up again you're going to lose your place on the sheet.

Teachers are not against looking at your hands once in a while especially after big jumps to make sure your hands land on the right notes. The correct way is to move your eyes down for a quick glance and back towards the sheet where you left off.
My teacher, who is also an accomplished performer and accompanist, says that you have to be able to look at the keyboard whenever you need to, and then find your place immediately again on the score. It’s a skill to develop, one that definitely improves if you work at it because I’ve gotten a LOT better in the last year alone. She says that it’s ridiculous to think you shouldn’t look at the keyboard, and that it puts unnecessary pressure on students who think it’s some kind of rule. It isn’t, you just have to develop the skill of knowing where you are in the score.
Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 02:45 PM
Originally Posted by Animisha
There are different schools, and my teacher thinks it is totally unnecessary to keep your eyes glued to the score. She recommends going back and forth and that is what I do.
Originally Posted by ebonyk
My teacher, who is also an accomplished performer and accompanist, says that you have to be able to look at the keyboard whenever you need to, and then find your place immediately again on the score. It’s a skill to develop, one that definitely improves if you work at it because I’ve gotten a LOT better in the last year alone. She says that it’s ridiculous to think you shouldn’t look at the keyboard, and that it puts unnecessary pressure on students who think it’s some kind of rule. It isn’t, you just have to develop the skill of knowing where you are in the score.

Yes, sure. It's true great sight readers do look at the keys sometimes. Yes, you shouldn't be all stressed out not to look down at any cost. That is all true...

BUT

There is a huge difference between a quick glance from time to time and constantly bobbing your head up and down. Unfortunately, I don't think people realise how much they are looking down. I advise you to record your sight reading and see for yourself. I know that when I did I was SHOCKED by how much I was doing the back and forth, totally unnecessarily as the music didn't have any large jumps.

IMO, although you shouldn't stress out too much about looking from time to time when it's really necessary, by default you should consciously try to keep your eyes on the score as much as possible.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 03:03 PM
@Dad
Be patient with yourself in developing spatial feeling Weird key relationships ( called proprioception). It takes time, snd the experience of playing a lot of music. You’ve only been playing 6 months, so you shouldn’t expect yourself to have mastered this sense of where the next key is.
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 03:09 PM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I know that when I did I was SHOCKED by how much I was doing the back and forth, totally unnecessarily as the music didn't have any large jumps.

IMO, although you shouldn't stress out too much about looking from time to time when it's really necessary, by default you should consciously try to keep your eyes on the score as much as possible.
If it was unnecessary, why do you think you were doing it? Obviously you glance down when you need to, not randomly for no reason whatsoever.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 03:11 PM
I’ve posted these eye-tracking experiments before, but look at around 3:20 for when the student’s eyes are being tracked vs the pros. We don’t have eye tracking eye glasses, but I do think recording sight reading and playing it back could be eye-opening to how inefficient we really can be And not realize it.

Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 03:40 PM
Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I know that when I did I was SHOCKED by how much I was doing the back and forth, totally unnecessarily as the music didn't have any large jumps.

IMO, although you shouldn't stress out too much about looking from time to time when it's really necessary, by default you should consciously try to keep your eyes on the score as much as possible.
If it was unnecessary, why do you think you were doing it? Obviously you glance down when you need to, not randomly for no reason whatsoever.
It is unnecessary in the sense that it is a small movement that can be done very accurately by feel rather than by looking. It is very inefficient to go back and forth between the score and the keys all the time, even more so on a grand piano where the stand is higher.

Originally Posted by dogperson
I’ve posted these eye-tracking experiments before, but look at around 3:20 for when the student’s eyes are being tracked vs the pros. We don’t have eye tracking eye glasses, but I do think recording sight reading and playing it back could be eye-opening to how inefficient we really can be And not realize it.
Exactly. I did not realise it myself until I recorded my sight reading.
Posted By: Pianoperformance Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 04:05 PM
I liken looking down at the keyboard to ‘stabilizers’ on a bike..you are going to use it a lot at the beginning…then looking at key board becomes an art depending on the score you are playing….it is a journey of practice, try it on a familiar piece and work on your spatial awareness. It does improve.
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 04:40 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
I’ve posted these eye-tracking experiments before, but look at around 3:20 for when the student’s eyes are being tracked vs the pros. We don’t have eye tracking eye glasses, but I do think recording sight reading and playing it back could be eye-opening to how inefficient we really can be And not realize it.

But, as is stated at 3:14, it's due to the professional having way more experience and comfort at the keyboard than most of us on these boards. I'm sure if we were all pros, we'd be better at it, too, LOL.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 04:47 PM
Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by dogperson
I’ve posted these eye-tracking experiments before, but look at around 3:20 for when the student’s eyes are being tracked vs the pros. We don’t have eye tracking eye glasses, but I do think recording sight reading and playing it back could be eye-opening to how inefficient we really can be And not realize it.

But, as is stated at 3:14, it's due to the professional having way more experience and comfort at the keyboard than most of us on these boards. I'm sure if we were all pros, we'd be better at it, too, LOL.


As amateurs, we can identify our weaknesses and consciously work on improving them. How? Play more music; consciously think about eye movements. Record and play back

Why accept ‘I’m not a pro’ ?
Posted By: Animisha Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 04:48 PM
Originally Posted by ebonyk
My teacher, who is also an accomplished performer and accompanist, says that you have to be able to look at the keyboard whenever you need to, and then find your place immediately again on the score. It’s a skill to develop, one that definitely improves if you work at it because I’ve gotten a LOT better in the last year alone. She says that it’s ridiculous to think you shouldn’t look at the keyboard, and that it puts unnecessary pressure on students who think it’s some kind of rule. It isn’t, you just have to develop the skill of knowing where you are in the score.

I fully agree with Lisa! (Actually, with her teacher.)
Posted By: Iaroslav Vasiliev Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 05:37 PM
It's very good that you asked, because it really leads to many sorts of bad habits. The main task of first piano years is to develop a good touch, when every finger approaches every key from the optimal angle and touches it gently but confidently in the optimal place where you have maximum control over the key, trying to make every keystroke easy and pleasant. It may all be disrupted when you try to play blindly in that period. It may lead to attacking keys from weird angles, when you have to stretch or squeeze your fingers, it may lead to weird fingerings, because you'll intuitively avoid hand position changes, it may lead to bad habit of playing too deep on the black keys, it may lead to bad habit of touching keys before playing them in order to find correct ones, it may even cause fear of touching keys, because you'll be afraid of pain of touching sharp edges of keys. It all leads to bad, uncertain touch. Precise spatial feeling is perhaps the most slowly growing piano skill of all, it requires many years to be developed, and until then, please, forget about that bad advice and watch your hands as much as you need to develop proper key attack.


My two cents.
Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 06:05 PM
So, looking up and down all the time is not a bad habit?
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 06:45 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Precise spatial feeling is perhaps the most slowly growing piano skill of all, it requires many years to be developed, and until then, please, forget about that bad advice and watch your hands as much as you need to develop proper key attack.

+1
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
So, looking up and down all the time is not a bad habit?
Would you rather they make many mistakes? Just guess at where the right notes are? Strike the ends or the sides of the keys? Get so frustrated that they quit?

It takes time and, when you're actually ready, practice. Why is this such a difficult concept?
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 06:50 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
Why accept ‘I’m not a pro’ ?
Sure, but at 6 months in?
Posted By: Qazsedcft Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 07:03 PM
Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
So, looking up and down all the time is not a bad habit?
Would you rather they make many mistakes? Just guess at where the right notes are? Strike the ends or the sides of the keys? Get so frustrated that they quit?
Who is 'they'? The OP? Some theoretical beginner? Everyone else in this discussion and in ABF?

I'm honestly trying to decide whether my own looking up and down is a bad habit from years of sight reading that way and by extension asking the same question for other people in the forum having this issue. It is not strictly related to the OP's question but going on tangents is what we do don't we? wink
Posted By: dogperson Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 07:14 PM
Originally Posted by ebonyk
Originally Posted by dogperson
Why accept ‘I’m not a pro’ ?
Sure, but at 6 months in?


I advised the OP that this skill takes a long time to develop, and be patient.

He was not the one posting I’m not a pro. If I were I would be better.
Posted By: Iaroslav Vasiliev Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 08:03 PM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
So, looking up and down all the time is not a bad habit?
No. It's a proper way to learn. It diminishes with time naturally.


The most common mistake that leads to loss of place in the score is moving the head up and down instead of moving the eyes only.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 08:16 PM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
So, looking up and down all the time is not a bad habit?
There's an appropriate amount of looking at the keyboard based on the piece's difficulty/layout on the keyboard and pianist's level. No one would expect a conservatory student to have to constantly look at the keyboard when playing a Bach chorale but a much less advanced student would probably have to look more. What an advanced student considers a big jump is not the same as what a less advanced thinks is a big jump.

If you watch the best pianists in the world play from the score they will all occasionally look at the keyboard unless perhaps if they are playing a very elementary piece.
Posted By: keystring Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 08:17 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
It's very good that you asked, because it really leads to many sorts of bad habits. The main task of first piano years is to develop a good touch, when every finger approaches every key from the optimal angle and touches it gently but confidently in the optimal place where you have maximum control over the key, trying to make every keystroke easy and pleasant. It may all be disrupted when you try to play blindly in that period. It may lead to attacking keys from weird angles, when you have to stretch or squeeze your fingers, it may lead to weird fingerings, because you'll intuitively avoid hand position changes, it may lead to bad habit of playing too deep on the black keys, it may lead to bad habit of touching keys before playing them in order to find correct ones, it may even cause fear of touching keys, because you'll be afraid of pain of touching sharp edges of keys. It all leads to bad, uncertain touch. Precise spatial feeling is perhaps the most slowly growing piano skill of all, it requires many years to be developed, and until then, please, forget about that bad advice and watch your hands as much as you need to develop proper key attack.


My two cents.
If there were a "like" button, I'd press it. You have described a lot of things I'm overcoming to a T.

I did not get taught not to look down, but I was also not taught anything else. I was a child who was given a piano and notation and I learned to "read" in a way where I heard what I saw in relative pitch and I simply felt my way around the keyboard. In fact, when I returned to piano 35 years later, the first time I tried to look at the keyboard I got disoriented. I cannot even describe how I did relate to it. The music I had available when young was a bunch of sonatinas, mostly Clementi, so I also stayed in the mid-range of the keyboard, 90% white keys, mostly with the hands in 5 finger span, and this puts your hand into a fixed shape, and region of the keyboard. There are also things that you don't learn to do.

One of the things I am learning to do now is to move in for mostly black keys, out for mostly white . I am overcoming the tendency to stay in one place and stretch: since I have a relatively wide span for my hand size (stretch hands, thumb to little finger forms a straight line), the habit is stronger - also twisting at the wrist. Children and older students who were taught differently never even have to learn to move their hands about. Nor does anybody think twice to do so when reaching for ordinary things in their lives.

In other words, everything you just wrote.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 09:11 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
It's very good that you asked, because it really leads to many sorts of bad habits. The main task of first piano years is to develop a good touch, when every finger approaches every key from the optimal angle and touches it gently but confidently in the optimal place where you have maximum control over the key, trying to make every keystroke easy and pleasant. It may all be disrupted when you try to play blindly in that period. It may lead to attacking keys from weird angles, when you have to stretch or squeeze your fingers, it may lead to weird fingerings, because you'll intuitively avoid hand position changes, it may lead to bad habit of playing too deep on the black keys, it may lead to bad habit of touching keys before playing them in order to find correct ones, it may even cause fear of touching keys, because you'll be afraid of pain of touching sharp edges of keys. It all leads to bad, uncertain touch. Precise spatial feeling is perhaps the most slowly growing piano skill of all, it requires many years to be developed, and until then, please, forget about that bad advice and watch your hands as much as you need to develop proper key attack.
.
You pretty much summed up everything I wanted to say. However, I think it's still a good idea to try to consciously improve your sense of proprioception and key distance at least some of the time. Perhaps spend some fifteen minutes each day trying to actively play without looking at the keys. Ideally, you would want to be playing blind when you can execute most of the hand movements correctly without looking. There's no point if you are simply hitting the notes. How long this will take will depend on the individual, but I would suggest holding it off until you can play at least grade 4-5 material fluently. To never to look at the keyboard is terrible advice. I'm pretty sure all pianists look at their hands when they are trying to figure out difficult technical passages. At the beginning, all passages are technically difficult for you, so you must look at your hands constantly and try to create that fusion between your musical intent and your hand movements.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416 Re: Basics for beginners - 07/18/21 11:54 PM
When we practice a piece enough times, we develop muscle memory. Some people like myself would get to the point of memorizing the notes that the sheet music is just there for checking once in a while. And we're less conscious of the notes we need to play like the fingers are on autopilot. When I need to look at my hands, it's usually the LH. My RH can play the right notes by feel.

Beginner pieces are not usually very fast or require you to play many notes or chords at the same time so memorizing entire sections is not necessary. When reading music, we don't have to read every note. Notes in the melody or the bass line that are the same we just need to read once.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 01:14 AM
Beginner pieces are usually quite easy to play, so they are easier to memorize as well! I would advise you too memorize each piece you play, and then play while paying closer attention to your hands. You want them to be very relaxed, roughly at level with the keys, etc. Read about proper piano posture, and try to get it as perfect as you can. Every slight improvement in efficiency counts! I think this would be the best way to progress quickly. Focus very intently over a prolonged period of time to perfect basic technique, or get as close to possible to perfection. This is especially important given your age, imo, and it would be incredibly important even for children. After six months or a year, if you do this right, you will have accumulated quite a bit of experience and fluency at the keyboard. It may take a few more years to mature. However, that is the point where I would start trying to focus on sight reading. In the initial stages, trust me and just memorize. It should be possible to memorize an easy short piece in a few hours. Once you've memorized it, try to improve every aspect of it, and play it really relaxed and effortlessly -- it will be better if a teacher can guide you on this. Pay close attention to your hands, the sensation of where the energy and strength is coming from, whether there are any weird angles in the hand, or tension, and so on.
Posted By: Sam S Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 01:50 AM
Originally Posted by ranjit
Beginner pieces are usually quite easy to play, so they are easier to memorize as well! I would advise you too memorize each piece you play, and then play while paying closer attention to your hands. You want them to be very relaxed, roughly at level with the keys, etc. Read about proper piano posture, and try to get it as perfect as you can. Every slight improvement in efficiency counts! I think this would be the best way to progress quickly. Focus very intently over a prolonged period of time to perfect basic technique, or get as close to possible to perfection. This is especially important given your age, imo, and it would be incredibly important even for children. After six months or a year, if you do this right, you will have accumulated quite a bit of experience and fluency at the keyboard. It may take a few more years to mature. However, that is the point where I would start trying to focus on sight reading. In the initial stages, trust me and just memorize. It should be possible to memorize an easy short piece in a few hours. Once you've memorized it, try to improve every aspect of it, and play it really relaxed and effortlessly -- it will be better if a teacher can guide you on this. Pay close attention to your hands, the sensation of where the energy and strength is coming from, whether there are any weird angles in the hand, or tension, and so on.

Bad advice, in my opinion. Don't memorize everything from the beginning. You need to learn to read music, play from the score, use a natural technique, look back and forth between your hands and the music - all of it. And learn to memorize if you want, but not exclusively.

Sam
Posted By: dmd Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 03:08 AM
Originally Posted by Dad9541
I am 61 and started learning to play the piano about 6 months ago. I am taking online lessons and really enjoy the progress I have been making. But... I also want a solid foundation as I learn. I was recently given the advice to start learning spacial recognition of the keyboard. That way, I would not have the need to look down at my hands while I was practicing. So I was wondering if this was solid advice? The reason that I am asking... Is that I do not want to get into any bad habits.

Thanks everyone!

The best advice I can give you is to do your best to learn to play while following along with where you are on the printed notation (sheet music).

Make no attempt at all to memorize anything.

If that means you must play very slowly, then do that.

If that means you need to glance down at your hands periodically, then do that.

If you do that, you will slowly get better and better at it until one day you will find that you do not even think about it any more.

You just do it.

Then you will be able to pick up a piece of printed music and just look at it and play it.

Some Day ....

Good Luck
Posted By: ranjit Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 05:17 AM
Originally Posted by Sam S
Originally Posted by ranjit
Beginner pieces are usually quite easy to play, so they are easier to memorize as well! I would advise you too memorize each piece you play, and then play while paying closer attention to your hands. You want them to be very relaxed, roughly at level with the keys, etc. Read about proper piano posture, and try to get it as perfect as you can. Every slight improvement in efficiency counts! I think this would be the best way to progress quickly. Focus very intently over a prolonged period of time to perfect basic technique, or get as close to possible to perfection. This is especially important given your age, imo, and it would be incredibly important even for children. After six months or a year, if you do this right, you will have accumulated quite a bit of experience and fluency at the keyboard. It may take a few more years to mature. However, that is the point where I would start trying to focus on sight reading. In the initial stages, trust me and just memorize. It should be possible to memorize an easy short piece in a few hours. Once you've memorized it, try to improve every aspect of it, and play it really relaxed and effortlessly -- it will be better if a teacher can guide you on this. Pay close attention to your hands, the sensation of where the energy and strength is coming from, whether there are any weird angles in the hand, or tension, and so on.

Bad advice, in my opinion. Don't memorize everything from the beginning. You need to learn to read music, play from the score, use a natural technique, look back and forth between your hands and the music - all of it. And learn to memorize if you want, but not exclusively.

Sam
The reason why I suggest memorizing is so that you don't have to look at the score and can therefore focus on your hands more. This is at the beginning stages, one you gain a moderate level of fluency, it's not an issue. I think a lot of technical issues are caused when the hands are on autopilot. Reading from the score will force you to divert your attention.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 07:41 AM
So in summary,

you have the opinion of those who recommend you to memorize so that you can look down and focus on your fingers, those that say that you should not memorize at all and start playing from the score day 1, and those in between to a varying degree.

I guess the OP is back to where he started.
Posted By: Animisha Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 10:28 AM
Sometimes I feel like we lose sight of the only truly important part of playing the piano which is to play a piece as best as you can. How much you look at the score versus how much you look at your hands in the end doesn't matter at all. As a beginner, play around with it, try to look more at the score than you usually do, try to memorise and watch your hands all the time, try to go back and forth between the keys and the score, try playing with closed eyes. You will find what suits you best.
We are all different. Where our eyes go when we are playing will be different.
Posted By: Iaroslav Vasiliev Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 10:54 AM
Originally Posted by Sidokar
So in summary,

you have the opinion of those who recommend you to memorize so that you can look down and focus on your fingers, those that say that you should not memorize at all and start playing from the score day 1, and those in between to a varying degree.

I guess the OP is back to where he started.
smile
But now the OP has necessary information to make informed decision.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416 Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 12:21 PM
The topic of playing from memory has been discussed before and we can spend half a day on it. I've seen people who played from the score and those who played from memory in a performance. The audience listened to the music. Whether someone plays from the score is irrelevant.

People who are in Suzuki would learn all the songs in Book 1 by imitating their teachers' hand positions and by listening without reading a single note. Reading is introduced after the first year. Traditional teaching methods would get students reading from day 1. Both reading skills & ear training are important. There are those who say students who learn the Suzuki way reading skill lag behind and many get into a habit of memorizing pieces to avoid reading.

After hearing a song on the radio, some people are comfortable reproducing the melody by ear and throw in some chords for harmony. Others need the sheet music to play it.

When your sight reading is at a certain level, you can play a piece once by reading and be done with it. Unless it's an advanced piece you're going to perform on stage, you don't need to memorize or polish it.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 12:32 PM
Piano player 416

Advanced pieces performed on stage do not necessarily need to be memorized. There is the choice of performing with the score. Starting with Liszt, there was a convention of memorizing all performance music. That has changed even for some professional highly-rated performers and it is considered acceptable in many situations to use the score for the performance.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 01:06 PM
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by Sidokar
So in summary,

you have the opinion of those who recommend you to memorize so that you can look down and focus on your fingers, those that say that you should not memorize at all and start playing from the score day 1, and those in between to a varying degree.

I guess the OP is back to where he started.
smile
But now the OP has necessary information to make informed decision.

Unhapilly, I think he just has a bunch of contradictory opinions that are all over the place and thus an overload of ideas. Difficult to define a practical path when one is a beginner. I guess it is inherent to asking a wide open question in a forum. Much better for him/her to follow the directions of the teacher. http://forum.pianoworld.com/images/icons/default/wink.gif
Posted By: thepianoplayer416 Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 01:30 PM
After watching many student performances, came to the conclusion Suzuki students would perform Book 1 pieces in their first recital from memory. Even after learning to read, many continue to perform on stage from memory. In a concert, reading pieces is up to the performer. In a competition or a talent show, it is more likely a contestant would play from memory.
Posted By: Sam S Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 01:54 PM
The OP is 61 - much more difficult to memorize at that age. Believe me, I know - I am 67. Sometimes I memorize, but I try to avoid it.

Sam
Posted By: Iaroslav Vasiliev Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 01:58 PM
Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by Sidokar
So in summary,

you have the opinion of those who recommend you to memorize so that you can look down and focus on your fingers, those that say that you should not memorize at all and start playing from the score day 1, and those in between to a varying degree.

I guess the OP is back to where he started.
smile
But now the OP has necessary information to make informed decision.

Unhapilly, I think he just has a bunch of contradictory opinions that are all over the place and thus an overload of ideas. Difficult to define a practical path when one is a beginner. I guess it is inherent to asking a wide open question in a forum. Much better for him/her to follow the directions of the teacher. http://forum.pianoworld.com/images/icons/default/wink.gif
For a moment I thought Moo has stolen your account. laugh

Well, opinions are information, too.
Posted By: liliboulanger Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 03:26 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
I’ve posted these eye-tracking experiments before, but look at around 3:20 for when the student’s eyes are being tracked vs the pros. We don’t have eye tracking eye glasses, but I do think recording sight reading and playing it back could be eye-opening to how inefficient we really can be And not realize it.

Such videos are the bane of a teacher's life.

It is difficult enough when a student comes in with a video of someone like Lang Lang playing a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody and asks: "When are you going to teach me to play those fast octaves?" crazy

Advanced pianists just do things differently from beginners or intermediates because they can, not because they know some secret of how and where and when to look at the score. For one thing, they see lots of familiar patterns and groups of notes and whole chords (in both hands) at a glance, not individual notes, and their well-trained hands know exactly where to go.

When the student gets to Grade 7 and above, he will be doing something close to what pros do when playing from the score. He won't need to be told: "This is what you need to learn to do."
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 03:28 PM
Originally Posted by Sam S
The OP is 61 - much more difficult to memorize at that age. Believe me, I know - I am 67. Sometimes I memorize, but I try to avoid it.

Sam
I think it's individual. I'm 55 and have several pieces firmly memorized, and I find memorization is natural for me. Everyone's brain is different.
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 03:30 PM
Originally Posted by liliboulanger
Advanced pianists just do things differently from beginners or intermediates because they can, not because they know some secret of how and where and when to look at the score. For one thing, they see lots of familiar patterns and groups of notes and whole chords (in both hands) at a glance, not individual notes, and their well-trained hands know exactly where to go.
Exactly.
Posted By: tangleweeds Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 07:58 PM
There are so many skills one's trying to learn at the beginning, and they're all so important. One needs to learn to play musically and ergonomically, and that's when you want to pay attention to your hands, not only what they look like but also what they feel like on the keyboard.

But once you have gotten the keyboard geography settled into your mind, can remember where your hands are on it and feel where you need to go next without looking, it makes it much easier to play without needing to look back and forth and re-find your place on the score, which is very nice.
Posted By: thepianoplayer416 Re: Basics for beginners - 07/19/21 09:54 PM
I've been memorizing music since my school days playing violin so memorizing piano music just means an extra staff with more notes. Part of memorizing is learning the notes and the other is muscle memory by repeating the same sequences many times until playing becomes automatic.

Beginner pieces start with the C position with the 2 thumbs on the middle C you don't have a lot to think about. When you always use the same fingers for the same notes, you can put finger numbers on the sheet and just go by them without consciously reading each note.

Repeating the same pieces many times whether you have it memorized or not is not the best way to practice reading. You learn a piece well enough your hand positions become automatic whether you read as you play or not. The best way to practice reading is to play new pieces regularly. When starting a new piece, you don't know the Key, Time Signature or the notes. The only thing that would help you is to run through the piece slowly so that you can get the right notes.
Posted By: ebonyk Re: Basics for beginners - 07/20/21 12:32 AM
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
I've been memorizing music since my school days playing violin so memorizing piano music just means an extra staff with more notes.
Fellow violinist here, as well, LOL! Though not really, I haven't seriously played since high school. Maybe our early violin training just made it easier for us to memorize? I think it probably comes naturally for me because I've just been doing it for so long. Definitely easier for violin, though, LOL!!!
Posted By: josh_sounds Re: Basics for beginners - 07/20/21 08:17 AM
Originally Posted by tangleweeds
There are so many skills one's trying to learn at the beginning, and they're all so important. One needs to learn to play musically and ergonomically, and that's when you want to pay attention to your hands, not only what they look like but also what they feel like on the keyboard.

But once you have gotten the keyboard geography settled into your mind, can remember where your hands are on it and feel where you need to go next without looking, it makes it much easier to play without needing to look back and forth and re-find your place on the score, which is very nice.

In format of 'the chicken or the egg' , which came to easy for you to do first? Memorizing the keys on the piano or memorizing the piece for the piano?
Posted By: thepianoplayer416 Re: Basics for beginners - 07/20/21 03:07 PM
Remembering the keys on a piano doesn't require a lot of effort. All we have are 7 letters of the alphabet. The sharps & flats for the black keys are like the accents in French or Italian you add on top of a vowel. To cover all 88 keys we start with A1...G1, A2...G2, A3...G3, etc. all the way up using the same 7 letters of the alphabet.

I'm a spatial person. I recognize the notes of a song by sound pitches. I don't usually recall specific notes in an abstract way. The melody of the beginner song "Mary Had a Little Lamb" can be written out as EDCD-EEE-DDD-EGG etc. Most people don't recall music this way. We'd hear a song on radio, go to a piano and try to repeat the notes of the melody by what we hear. We navigate the keyboard by the shape & position of the keys. And we get to the note we want by thinking about the sound that specific keys would make without thinking the key we want is a C3 or D4 sort of thing.

And then there is muscle memory. We'd play automatically after repeating the same finger sequences many times. We're not consciously thinking the note we just played is a C or a G. The sound that comes out would tell us if the notes are correct.
Posted By: SunnyKeys Re: Basics for beginners - 07/20/21 08:55 PM
Wish I could have seen this thread 18 months ago. I freaked out thinking I was looking at the keys too much (I was but I was a newbie) AND I always lost my place on the music. Still struggle with this but I'm improving.

I have surprised myself recently that I'm grasping some key geography naturally, after two years of playing. I am also getting better at glancing to the keyboard and finding the place on my music sheet. It does take time to develop this.

A piece I'm learning now, I always glanced at one particular section. I have the key geography defined but now it is just comfortable to glance down without needing to, if that makes sense. It's almost like a pitcher's wind up before the pitch or a golfer's preshot routine.

Keep working. You will develop the skills naturally. I was about your age when I started. You have a future!

Also, dogperson, thanks for your encouragement. You have told me to be patient too. I appreciate the support from inside my tablet you send.
Posted By: tangleweeds Re: Basics for beginners - 07/20/21 10:35 PM
Originally Posted by josh_sounds
Originally Posted by tangleweeds
There are so many skills one's trying to learn at the beginning, and they're all so important. One needs to learn to play musically and ergonomically, and that's when you want to pay attention to your hands, not only what they look like but also what they feel like on the keyboard.

But once you have gotten the keyboard geography settled into your mind, can remember where your hands are on it and feel where you need to go next without looking, it makes it much easier to play without needing to look back and forth and re-find your place on the score, which is very nice.

In format of 'the chicken or the egg' , which came to easy for you to do first? Memorizing the keys on the piano or memorizing the piece for the piano?

Learning to see the keyboard in my mind and to read notes from the page came far more easily for me than memorizing pieces.

I had terrible problems memorizing (perhaps because I learned to read music relatively easily?) until I learned enough basic music theory to see interesting patterns instead of way too long a series of way too many notes to ever possibly remember. Muscle memory and playing it by ear would eventually enable me to put away the sheet music, but then I had no idea what notes I was actually playing. So I was really happy learning theory because it helped me see/remember what what was actually going on.

But I'm a linguistics/coding/math geek from a non-musical family, so it kind of makes sense that the abstract parts would be easier for me to learn.
Posted By: Proton Re: Basics for beginners - 07/21/21 10:38 AM
I don't know if it's perfect pitch, but I could go to the correct place on an instrument whenever I heard a note. Obviously it made playing by ear very easy on instruments that have the notes arranged logically, and I learnt the harmonica and fife very quickly, but not guitar, where notes and chords need special memorisation. When I began piano, melody was easy, but chords not so, because of the same reason.

Then I remembered when I was learning programming I had great difficulty because I did not know how to type. However after lots of keyboard usage, I learnt the logic of the keyboard layout, THROUGH much usage, and now I can enter words very easily and quickly. I suppose this will be the same with piano, because I'm using chords and scales a lot, and learning music theory and notation reading, ie. the use of sheet music. Now instead of just individual notes, I know where the chords and the major and the chromatic scales are located. Inverted chords are formed in a uniform way, so that helps

Since I play fife well, I'm also learning flute. Flute learning doesn't need too much music theory knowledge and it's mainly a melodic notation, but there is a lot of stress on harmonics. This is also helping me to learn the logic of the flute, where some fingerings aren't very logical!
Posted By: JohnnyIssieBangie Re: Basics for beginners - 07/25/21 05:16 AM
Look down only when you need to... is subjective and utterly useless advice to you.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, don't look down, at all.
There is no need to, you're not going to be playing anything / well you shouldn't be playing anything for some time to come that really truly requires you to look down. If you are playing pieces that require you look down then you're ABSOLUTELY playing the wrong stuff.
Doing the .... it's ok to look down now and then ... nonsense is not going to do you any favors and you are bound to start over-relying on looking down. And like someone else had already mentioned, you will be shocked when you realize how often you're looking down.
Now if you're still learning the structure of the keyboard and you're unable to place your hands in say the F position without finding it on the keyboard first, that's a different story and really a moot point.
Don't look down. Try not to. It will help you tremendously if you don't.
Posted By: ranjit Re: Basics for beginners - 07/25/21 08:16 AM
Originally Posted by JohnnyIssieBangie
There is no need to, you're not going to be playing anything / well you shouldn't be playing anything for some time to come that really truly requires you to look down. If you are playing pieces that require you look down then you're ABSOLUTELY playing the wrong stuff.
Hard disagree. You can certainly hit the notes without looking down, but it is important to look at your hands and keep improving your technique. You don't want bad technique to become automatic.
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